Evangelism and Worship – Which One?

Many may be tempted to place evangelism and worship as over or against the other in regards to ecclesiastical focus. Is the church’s primary aim to evangelize, or is its primary aim to worship? This dichotomy, perhaps subconsciously, very much determines one’s ecclesiology. If one prefers evangelism, they may focus on the ‘going’ and ‘serving,’ rallying troops for the streets. If one prefers worship, they may tend towards discipleship classes, theological lecture series, etc. I believe, however, that the choice between the church’s ultimate end being evangelism or worship ought to have little influence into a decided negligence towards one or the other. Just because worship may be the ultimate end of the church does not therefore render evangelism as a petty second-class suggestion. Both worship and evangelism are commanded by God, and his bride ought to strive with all fervor and might to accomplish the call.

If one had to choose strictly between worship and evangelism as the church’s ultimate end, worship ought to be preferred. As Piper notes in Let the Nations Be Glad: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.” A substitution of evangelism for missions is necessary for the quote’s application, and I do not mean to imply that missions and evangelism are the same thing, but the principle remains – i.e. both evangelism and missions are subordinate to worship because of their temporality.

But I think we are missing the point in the discussion. Given the choice between evangelism and worship, one is horribly mistaken in the negation of the correct option. God’s glory is the ultimate end in all things, and thus the church’s ultimate end in all things is to glorify God. This greater purpose, God’s ultimate end in all things, should be greater emphasized. It is this foundation, I believe, that better serves the student struggling through the false dichotomy of evangelism and worship. One ought not choose between evangelism or worship as the ultimate end, because neither are the ultimate end of God’s desire or plan and both serve as means to the ultimate end. Neither evangelism nor worship are ends in and of themselves, but both serve to emanate the glory of God.

Similar to how love is greater than faith and hope because love never ends or fails (cf. 1 Cor 13), worship is indeed greater than evangelism because worship will never end, whereas evangelism in temporal. Therefore, it would be correct to say that worship is ‘greater’ than evangelism in this sense; but it would be misguided to assume that this consideration then qualitatively lessens the value of evangelism – by no means. Just as the valuation of worship is qualified by its achievement of its ultimate end – God’s glorification – and is thereby necessary as a means to its end, similarly, the valuation of evangelism is qualified in its proper use as a means to the subordinate end of worship, which ultimately serves the ultimate end – God’s glorification. It is a pursuit characterized by layers, where each desire is supported by other desires until one reaches the foundation, the ultimate desire; and as they all serve this foundation, they are valued in their instrumentation as such. Therefore, seeing that evangelism serves worship in no way diminishes its value; in fact, it necessarily qualifies evangelism because it commends its fitness to achieve its designed end, which is the determinant of a thing’s ‘goodness.’ I believe this progression ought to be better emphasized, as it relieves the tendency to diminish the importance of one discipline because it serves the other.

The important thing to remember is that in our evangelism and in our worship, the foundation and final aim of both is the supreme glorification of God.

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